The terror attack in Bnei Brak two days ago was the third within a week, following attacks in Be’er Sheva and Hadera. In these three attacks, 11 people were killed and dozens wounded. The terrorist in Bnei Brak was a Palestinian from the Jenin area, and the terrorists in Be’er Sheva and Hadera were Israeli Arabs. The string of lethal attacks calls to mind the worst periods of terror Israel faced in the past when many Israelis were afraid to leave the house, ride the bus or enter a shopping mall.
When people’s sense of security is shaken, there is an expectation that the government and the defense establishment will eliminate the threat and restore calm. This is indeed an emergency situation. At this stage and given that the terrorists were Israeli citizens and Palestinians from the territories, forces have to be bolstered and suspects will have to be detained in both the West Bank and inside the Green Line to restore personal security.
However, the government must not give in to the pointless calls for collective punishment. It should not carry out home demolitions or issue a sweeping ban on Palestinians visiting the Temple Mount during Ramadan, two measures that have not proven effective aside from satisfying a thirst for vengeance. The cries of “Death to the Arabs” that are being heard once more in the public sphere are not only racist, they also ignore the fact that the Israeli human fabric is composed of two peoples, most of whom wish to live side by side in peace. Policeman Amir Khoury from Nof Hagalil, who was killed in the Bnei Brak terror attack after he fired at the terrorist, and Border Policeman Yazan Falah from Kasra Sami’a, who was killed in the Hadera terror attack, are a testament to this.
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Nor does the unstable security situation justify taking unnecessary collective measures as was done by several local authorities, which canceled construction and landscaping projects at schools. Ramat Gan mayor Carmel Shama Hacohen even wrote that he would settle scores with any contractors who did not heed his request to shut down the construction sites, saying he would patrol the schools armed with a pistol.
The government and defense establishment must not fall into the trap of those who seek revenge and hurt the Palestinians en masse. The month of Ramadan begins this weekend, and rash, vengeful moves could trigger an escalation and wider violence, similar to what happened in Israel and Gaza during Operation Guardian of the Walls last May.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett needs to keep his cool and not be swayed by the right, which describes the conflict in the terminology of a religious war or wants to turn it into an all-out Jewish-Arab conflict. Not only have the terror attacks been condemned across the board, but the government that Bennett formed, based on Jewish-Arab cooperation, is the best proof of all that reality is more complex than the way it is portrayed by the vengeance-seekers.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.